Chiffchaff ©Richard Steel/2020VISION


Scientific name: Phylloscopus collybita
In early spring, listen out for the 'chiff chaff chiff chaff' song of the appropriately named chiffchaff. It can be heard in woodland, scrub, parks and gardens across the UK.

Species information


Length: 10cm
Wingspan: 18cm
Weight: 9g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December


The chiffchaff is a bird of woodland, scrub, parks and gardens. It sings its name out loud in a simple 'chiff chaff chiff chaff' song, which it performs from the tree canopy. Some chiffchaffs stay all year-round, but most migrate here from Africa. They are one of our earliest arrivals, singing their hearts out from the end of February onwards.

How to identify

Chiffchaffs are a dull green above and pale yellow below, with an off-white belly and a short eyebrow stripe. Willow warblers and chiffchaffs are very similar, olive-coloured warblers, so are best identified by their song: Chiffchaffs sing 'chiff chaff chiff chaff'. willow warblers have pale legs, while chiffchaff legs are dark grey.


Widespread, mostly as a summer visitor.

Did you know?

Chiffchaffs nest on, or close to, the ground, hidden among brambles or nettles. Their domed nests are built by the females out of stems and leaves, and lined with feathers.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.